It’s been a long time since my last post. It’s not that we have not been traveling but the motivation to write was somehow missing and added to that were technological issues that are best left undiscussed for now.
Anyhow, the motivation to write has reignited now courtesy a new fancy blogging device (read MacBook Air) from the hubby-man and a lazy rain washed weekend here in Mumbai.
So last weekend, which was a long weekend for Id-ul-fitr, we seredipitously found ourselves in Hyderabad – the city of Nizams. If one is a foodie, there is perhaps no better time to visit Hyderabad than during Ramzan, as this is the only time of the year when the city’s many popular biryani joints are also dishing out plate after plate of the delectable Haleem – a stew made of mutton, lentils, pounded wheat and dry fruits that is meant to provide instant energy to those breaking their day long fast.
But between feasting on biryani, haleem and phirni and catching up on Golconda’s glorious past in the light of the crescent shaped Id moon, we took a road trip to Medak, a dusty town 90 kms north-west of Hyderabad whose claim to fame is the Medak cathedral considered to be the largest church in India.
Medak with it’s remote location, sleepy markets, ramshackle bus depot and cramped crooked streets, seems like a very unlikely location for the largest church in India but here it was, rising out the unremarkable surroundings like a mirage in a desert. As we drove into the town, we spotted it’s 175ft high bell tower from almost a kilometre away.
Built in 1920s, the cathedral can house 5000 people. It’s multi coloured mosaic floor tiles were imported from Britain and it seems Italian masons from Bombay worked on laying the floor. But the most stunning aspect of the grey stone Gothic structure are the three giant stained glass windows depicting scenes from the life of Christ.
Being Saturday, a steady stream of visitors sauntered in and out of the cathedral although service was not in progress. A giant antique wind organ lay still on one side of the altar. We sat on one of the wooden benches for a while trying to soak in the grandeur of the place until hunger growled from deep inside our tummy.
Driving away from the cathedral, we went looking for the Medak fort perched on top of a low hill opposite the old bus stand. There is not much left to see in the dilapidated fort but it offers panoramic views of Medak town, the surrounding lakes and the towering cathedral.
Besides, Telangana State Tourism Department’s runs a “heritage” hotel from the grounds of the fort. Anyone willing to stay there, needs to book in advance on the tourism board’s website but looking at the condition of place I would not risk taking any such initiatives. The hotel has probably the only functional restaurant in the town with the receptionist doubling up as the cook and the security guard doubling up as the waiter. We were advised not to waste our time browsing through the menu as they would not be able to serve most of the items in there. Instead they advised us to choose from phulka, dal or egg bhurji (Full marks to them for honesty). We were famished. Hence, we ordered all three. After a flurry of sounds and cloud of tadka induced smoke the food appeared on our table. It was simple and fresh and disappeared almost as soon as it was laid out on the table.
Post lunch we headed back towards Hyderabad after a short stopover at Pocharam Dam – a serene British era barrage 18 kms away from Medak. All in all, Medak makes for a good day trip from Hyderabad. The road is more or less good except for the last few kilometres leading up to Medak and is surrounded by interesting natural rock formations on either side.
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